Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mushing in the Mush at Polar Adventure Day 2010


We have been regulars at Polar Adventure Day for 4 years, throughout subzero temps, snow and lack thereof.   This year was more like the (melting of the) Polar (icecaps) Adventure Day.

It was fascinating to see a mushing demo with the husky dogsled team.   We'd seen them run on snow, pulling a sled, lots of times, but we'd never seen them mush through the mush.


They pulled a 3 wheeled bike through the muddy grass, and though not as picturesque as sledding over snowdrifts, they seemed to manage just fine.

We've had 3 Huskies and a Husky/Malamute as family pets over the years, and are fervent fans of the breed.  
If anyone's looking to adopt a rescue Husky, contact Free Spirit Husky Rescue in Harvey, IL.   They may shed tufts of white fluff, like a cottonwood tree, when they blow coat twice a year, but they make wonderful family dogs.

The kids learned how Polar bears, penguins, whales and seals keep warm and simulated having blubber by feeling ice with a bare hand versus feeling ice through a bag of lard.

 Then we made fairy wands, painted a winter themed paper quilt, 

and experimented with Mad Science.   We also loved the African folklore, story telling and drumming. 

Finally, we saw our old favs, birds of prey.   The tiny owl and this stunning red tailed hawk, from Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation, were cool to see up close.
 There's one more Polar Adventure Day for the year, on February 20th.   We hope to see you there.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I ♥ Faces Texture

This looking glass moment with Sagie in Wonderland, is the epitome of texture.  

What would life be without all the rich and varied textures.  This was taken at the Chicago Waldorf School Winter Fair, where the textures of all the handmade goodies were fanciful and fun.

Check out the I ♥ Faces texture themed contest this week, by clicking on the link above.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Creepy Killer or Peace Sign? Life Lessons in Coffee Cake.

Mmmm Swedish Kringle, AKA:  Aunt Jan Coffee Cake. 
This tasty treat is a fond memory from my childhood.   Every birthday, my Mom would shape the coffee cake into our age and bring us breakfast in bed.   Every Christmas, she would make a forest of Kringle trees and give them to friends and neighbors.   We'd always have several for Christmas breakfast.
This year, we decided to make our own, but left the design particulars to each member of the family.   Du-Jay made an awesome, anatomically correct snow boy.
Sagezilla made a Christmas tree, more candy than coffee cake.

Old school punk/hardcore Daddy made a scary face that was originally going to be a killer in a hockey mask, but mutated into more of a monster.   He also re-dubbed the confection "heart attack cake", due to the copious amounts of butter.

Hippie/punk Mama made a tie dyed peace sign.

When Dad pulled the baked cakes out of the oven, he laughed and exclaimed, "See, we're really not so different!" 

I have always thought that punks and hippies are a yin/yang type of balance, with more similarities than differences.   Punks are cynical hippies with similar political and world views.   Both are often vegetarian or vegan.   They just dress differently on the surface and like to rock out to different tunes.   
Despite the fact, some of our punk friends say "Blah, blah,blah....boring, lame jam bands and the great unwashed."   And some of our hippie friends are freaked out by and avoid the punks, a good sized segment of us enjoy both worlds.
We're really not so different, indeed.

DIY Life lessons in coffee cake:   

 Aunt Jan Coffee Cake from Mom
1 stick butter & 1 cup flour—work by hand
Add 1 T cold water
Form ball and divide in two.
Make 2—12 inch rolls and flatten into desired
shapes on cookie sheet with palm of hand.
In pan together 1 cup water & 1 stick butter.
Bring to boil. Remove from heat and add 1 cup flour
And 1 T almond extract.
Beat in 3 eggs one at a  time by spoon.
Spread on above mixture.
Bake about 1 hour at 350 degrees. Cool. Frost. Decorate.
1 cup powdered sugar
2 T softened butter or margarine
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
Add 2-3 teaspoons milk.
Mix and add coloring.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Look For ChiIL Mama This Weekend: The Swedish Museum, Polar Adventure Day, & Vittum Theatre

Friday Fun:
Swedish Style

Jan. 22, is Family Night at the Museum! Admission is free, but reservations are recommended. Come make crafts, participate in activities, and see the new exhibit, "Swedish Cows!  4-7pm at The Swedish American Museum

Saturday Fun:
Polar Adventure Day  All ages. Free. Don't let winter slow you down - come out and enjoy it at the fifth annual Polar Adventure Days series. Watch as amazing ice sculptures are created, meet live animals, make winter-themed crafts, sip on hot cocoa, and much more. Don't forget to dress warm.
Date: 01/23/10
Start Time: 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Cost: free
Location : Northerly Island

Click Polar Adventure Day in the side bar, for a photo filled blast from the past.   Remember how much fun Polar Adventure Day was in 2009. 

Sunday Theatrical Fun:
The Whipping Boy



New Play Workshop

Free Reading of
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
adapted by Beau Johnson

Sunday, January 24th, 2:00pm
Vittum Theater
Admission is FREE and reservations are recommended
Call our Box Office at 773.342.4141
Refreshments will be served

The Whipping Boy centers on proud orphan Jemmy and spoiled brat Prince Horace. In a time when striking an heir to the throne is considered a crime worse than murder, Jemmy is the unlucky boy picked to receive corporal punishment in the prince's stead. When the two young men run away from home, each sees the other in a new light and an unlikely friendship is born.

ASC's New Play Workshop Series is an opportunity for our audience to gain a sneak peek at and share their thoughts on new plays we are considering for full production in a future season. The audience is encouraged to remain after the reading for a talkback with the director and cast.

Musical Alternative:
Our Beatles show at Fitzgerald's last Sunday filled up quickly and many people were turned away - make sure you arrive early, or buy tickets in advance!
Tributosaurus For Kids!
Why should Tributosaurus be just for adults? We've had so many requests from our fans to do a show that is accessible to the little ones that we decided it's time to give the kids a show of their own.
As our fans know, this past November we embarked on our quest to play the entire Beatles catalog with Volume 1, encompassing the first 2 albums and the Singles of the same time period, and we've decided that this is music that speaks to everyone - so we're bringing it to the kids. We've cut down the mega-set to a more manageable 1 hour, and we're offering it to families all over town --
this Sunday we visit the north side at SPACE!
Trib For Kids Becomes THE BEATLES (Vol. 1) :
Sunday, January 24th at SPACE
2pm Show - $10 in advance, $15 at the Door / Kids Under 3 Free
1245 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL
Tickets available at


Tickets on Sale Now for New 40-Minute Multi-Sensory Adventure Created Specifically for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Chicago Children’s Theatre presents “Red Kite Round Up,” Jan. 20 – Feb. 19 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion Choral Rehearsal Room in Millennium Park. “Red Kite Round Up” is a 40-minute multi-sensory adventure created for children with autism spectrum disorder ages 5-13 and their chaperones. Guides take 10 children on the autism spectrum on a digitally simulated outdoor trip where they can chase butterflies, hike trails, star gaze and more.

“Red Kite Round Up” is part of CCT’s ongoing Red Kite Project for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and is the second installation of its kind created by the company.  The driving force behind The Red Kite Project is Russell.  In her capacity as an artist in residence for the past decade at Agassiz Elementary School, she has had the opportunity to teach theater to students with autism since 1997 and has witnessed firsthand the benefits of drama for this unique audience. 

Chicago Children’s Theatre officially launched The Red Kite Project in October 2007 when it brought members of London’s Oily Cart to Chicago for a series of workshops at the Victory Gardens Biograph.  That work culminated in a four-week education initiative, “Red Kite/Blue Moon,” presented at the Chicago Children’s Museum Spring 2008.  Red Kite also includes “Camp Red Kite,” a summer arts camp for children with ASD and their families encompassing music, movement, drama, arts and crafts and led by a team of artists and special education teachers; and professional development workshops for child educators.

 “Red Kite Round Up” runs Jan. 20 - Feb. 19 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion Choral Rehearsal Room in Millennium Park. The schedule will be as follows: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Thursdays and Saturdays at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 ($20 covers total cost for a child and one chaperone; $10 observer tickets subject to availability). Due to the nature of the production, capacity for “Red Kite Round Up” is limited and advanced reservations are required. “Red Kite Round Up” is appropriate for ages 5-13. For more information visit or call 773.227.0180 x15.

Chicago Children’s Theatre aspires to enrich our community through diverse and significant theatrical and educational programming that engages and inspires the child in all of us. Chicago Children’s Theatre focuses on the production of first-rate children’s theater in Chicago, with top writing, performing and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise.  Led by Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, the company is supported by a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of dedicated individuals from the fields of entertainment, philanthropy and business and a committed Artistic Council of Chicago-based actors, directors, musicians and designers. 

Founded in 2005, Chicago Children’s Theatre, a non-profit organization, provides affordable and accessible theater for families and area school children. To enhance the impact of any given production’s themes, Chicago Children’s Theatre also offers educational materials and programs for families and educators.  Since their Inaugural Production of “A Year With Frog and Toad” in 2006, Chicago Children's Theatre has continued to produce top-tier theater for families.  For more information about Chicago Children’s Theatre visit or call 773.227.0180.

The Red Kite Project is sponsored by The Chicago Community Trust – Audience Engagement Sponsor; The Field Foundation and The Blowitz-Ridgeway Foundation – Productions Sponsors; Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation and Helen Brach Foundation – Education Sponsors.  Millennium Park is Program Partner for “Red Kite Round Up.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

826Chi Moustache-A-Thon Bwwwwwwwwwwwwaaaaahahahaha



MOUSTACHE-A-THON 2010 is a month-long, winter celebration of a spy's best disguise: the moustache. Organic growers start with a clean shave and attempt to grow a most beautiful moustache. Those who don't want/ can't have a lip canopy, are encouraged to register as a prosthetic grower. Each week, the prosthetic growers are given a creative project to be completed by the next meeting.
Both organic and prosthetic growers find friends and family to support and fund their growing endeavor and, simultaneously, 826CHI's free programming for students.

Supporters, growers, gawkers can track the progress of these moustaches and donate to the cause on our website or in person at weekly check-ins at
Sheffield's [3258 N. Sheffield Ave | Just off the Red Line Belmont Stop]!


WED JAN 20th at 7:00pm at 826CHI: The Opening Hair-emonies
THURS FEB 11th at 7:00 pm at Sheffield's: First 'Stache Check-in
THURS FEB 18th at 7:00pm at Sheffield's: Second 'Stache Check-in
THURS FEB 25th at 7:00 pm at Sheffield's: The Closing Hair-emonies


The kids.
Upper lip warmth.
Free drinks.
Weekly prizes including tickets to the theatre, books, music, shirts.
Meeting like minded and faced individuals.
The best organic grower wins the prized 'STACHE SASH.
The best prosthetic grower wins the prized MOUSTACHE TIARA.
The best funded moustache wins the prized CHAP 'STACHE CUP.


Sign up now by sending your name and your preference [prosthetic or organic grower] to
INFO@826CHI.ORG. And if you have any questions, feel free to write or call 773-772-8108 and ask for the Moustache Man.

  1331 N. Milwaukee Ave | Chicago, IL 60622 | ph. 773-772-8108 | fx. 773-326-3513 |

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I ♥ Faces--We are Family

A stranger and a friend may not be the first people who come to mind when you hear, the I ♥ Faces theme of the week, We Are Family.    But I thought this shot, taken on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, really depicts the bigger picture.   We are ALL family.......the humankind family.   On this day, on the south side of Chicago, people laughed, skated and played together regardless of the color of their skin.   Race, religion, gender and age were all irrelevant.   Isn't that what family really means.

Gymnastics, Skating and Hibernating

"I wish we were bears," Sagezilla exclaimed on this long 3 day weekend.   "I REALLY wanna hibernate, too."   Instead, we reluctantly climbed out of our down comforter cocoons at 6AM to trek down south to the Fox Valley Tumbling Invitational in Aurora.   It ended up being worth the drive, as both kids placed 2nd in their age groups.   I can't rave enough about the Chicago Park District.   We've been enrolled in park sport like gymnastics, soccer, swimming and floor hockey for the kids whole lives.   We've also loved pottery through the parks for years.   Park district classes are a reasonably prices, fun, confidence builder.   Take that, bears!   We're staying active through the cold, winter months.

Down in Aurora, the kids got a good work out and some friendly competition in a spacious gym.   Then we stocked up on used book at a sale in their local library, which is conveniently located in the same building as the park district.  

We finished off our little jaunt to the south with a half a tank of 20 cent cheaper gas (woo hoo) and an excellent lunch at a little wood smoked BBQ joint on Ogden Ave. in Naperville called Gemato's.   While there, we thoroughly enjoyed the food and read all about Calamity Jane, Will Rogers and Pancho Villa on the walls.   As we finished our lunch, an elderly gentleman with a walker came by with a giant bag of stuffed animals and proceeded to ask permission from all the parents, to distribute them to their kids.   We left with a free wide eyed, gray dog and a hairy polar bear to add to our menagerie at home.

Sunday, we really did hibernate.   We'd been visiting friends till 1am Saturday night and were all up way past our bed times, and ChiIL Daddy had been gone for a week, traveling for work.    There's something to be said for relaxing, family time.

Monday, we spent a day skating with friends down in Hyde Park.   Thank you MLK.  You would have approved of the diverse group of people skating peacefully and playfully

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lifeline's Last of the Dragons is a First Favorite of 2010

2010 is off to a fire breathing, roaring start, in the world of Chicago children's theatre productions.   We saw "The Last of the Dragons" last Sunday and unanimously loved it!   Lifeline Theatre's world premiere musical adaptation of the classic Edith Nesbit tale, soundly trumps all those retched "helpless princess waiting to be rescued by prince charming" fairy tales that we had to endure in our childhoods.   It's our first favorite of the new decade.

This princess is a brave and beautiful fencing powerhouse, who's not going settle for being tied to a boulder, while she waits around to be rescued, just because that's how things have always been done.    Princess Andromeda of Astoria (Anne Sears) decides to challenge the traditions of her kingdom and fight the last living dragon herself.

This prince is more brains than brawn; a geeky, bookish inventor who skipped out on his royal fencing lessons to read more math books.   He's as leery of the arranged marriage, as his wife to be is.   But, Prince Stanley of Tuscany (Scott Allen Luke) is one prince of a nice guy, who's just as scared of the princess as he is of the dragon.

This dragon just wants to have tea and cookies in peace, and have someone ask what he wants, instead of endlessly trying to kill him.   Fortunately, Princess Andromeda is brave and smart enough not to stab first and ask questions later.

This production was adapted for the stage by David Bareford; music by Mikhail Fiksel;
lyrics by Mikhail Fiksel, Kyle Hamman, and Alex Balestrieri; directed by Dorothy Milne.

ChiIL Mama highly recommends this playful musical, with it's strong female lead, smart and sensitive prince, and tradition challenging message.   The songs are excellent, and even my punk rock 6 year old, who has a low tolerance for traditional musical children's theatre, enjoyed the tunes.

top 3 photos by Suzanne Plunkett 
remaining photos by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

The Last of the Dragons is educational too.   In addition to the healthy girl power message, the show includes dialogue that would make a high school English teacher proud.   David Fink is a hoot, as wisecracking parrot, D'Artagnan, who developed an astounding vocabulary because his cage was lined with the pages of a dictionary.   David did impressive triple duty as not only the verbose bird, but Chamberlain and the dragon as well.

After the show, we had the pleasure of meeting David's parents in the autograph line.   His Mom sighed, "My husband is a doctor.   My son is a dragon.   I just have to go with it."   It's easy to see where he gets his comedic timing.   She proudly told me of his reptile repertoire, since he also starred as Lyle in "Lyle, Lyle Crocodile", a favorite past Lifeline Theatre production, we loved as well.

The kids continued their dual traditions of getting their programs autographed by the actors and getting their picture taken in the funky, oversized prop chair in the lobby.


All of the actors, costumes and set design were fantastic, and "The Last of the Dragons" continues Lifeline Theatre's reputation for truly worthwhile childrens theatre.

Lifeline Theatre's world premiere musical runs Saturdays at 1pm and Sundays at 11am and 1pm, through  February 21st.   The theatre is located at 6912 N. Glenwood.   Call the box office at 773-761-4477 or check out their web site for tickets.

While you're in the Glenwood Arts district, check out the funky sculpture yard in the lot next door to Lifeline Theatre,

The Mess Hall, a few doors to the North, is also a unique place to explore.   They have a barter system wall of posts for jobs needed and skills available, and a fun FREE box to rifle through or fill with fun treasures you're ready to pass along.

Then just a few block further North, you can eat at bohemian, hippy activist staple, Heartland Cafe.   Carnivours, vegetarians and even vegans will find choices on this inclusive menu.